FERIAS & FIESTAS
In the Mediterranean bull raising, worship and sacrifice date back to before the Bible. Many of the older bullrings in Spain are located near Roman temples in sites where sacred bulls were once sacrificed. In the middle ages the nobility practiced bullfighting, hunting and jousting to learn the art of warfare. The aristocracy entertained themselves fighting bulls on horseback in suerle de casa, and as this pastime began to fade in the 18th century, peasants took to bullfighting on foot. Viewed by many as an art form, bullfighting is linked to the Spanish national identity and is increasing in popularity, in spite of international animal rights protests.
THE DYNAMICS OF A CORRIDA (not for the weak of heart)
A bullfight is a highly ritualised and structured event. It begins with the paseillo where all the human participants enter the ring presenting themselves to the public. Symbolic keys to the bull pen, the puerta de los toriles, are presented to the mounted alguacilillo. The spectacle itself consists of three parts, called tercios, which are announced by trumpet blasts. There are three toreros in each corrida, and each must fight two toros bravos that are at least four years old and weigh 460-600 kilos a piece. The matador wears a traje de luces, a suit of light inspired by 18th century Andalusian clothing.
The Running of the Bulls in the San Fermín festival in Pamplona was made famous in the Anglo-Saxon world with Hemmingways novel. The Sun Also Rises. Nowadays San FermÃn attracts many tourists who choose to run with the bulls. Running with the bulls is dangerous and the town hall offers multi-lingual brochures with tips on how to survive the experience. Tip#1 watch it from the sidelines!
At noon on July 6th a fireworks display kicks off the festivities which last an entire week, ending at midnight on July 14th. On July 7th, thousands of people accompany the effigy of Saint Fermín along the streets of Pamplona. There are dancers and street entertainers and giant carnival figures.
The main event the encierro, the Running of the Bulls, is what draws the crowds. The encierro involves running in front of bulls down 825 metres (0.51 mile) of cobbled streets in old town Pamplona. Each morning the events start at 20:00. The competitors, mostly men, are clad in white, with a red handkerchief, tied about their necks, and a red sash tied around their waist. The runners gather together and sing an ode to San Fermín asking for his blessing before making the mad dash. After the run, the participants hit the bars… Its fun, its invigorating but please remember its also highly dangerous. www.sanfermin.com